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Enterprise 2.0 Risks & Benefits

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Enterprise 2.0 is all about empowering employees the ability to work more effectively to achieve their business objectives. This new shift in paradigm is built around the use of more flexible, collaborative tools that extend community knowledge – which in most cases is most effective if the organisation’s culture is more transparent and less hierarchical. Implementing Enterprise 2.0 has been rewarding for most organisations and these benefits include:

  • Greater ability to share ideas
  • Improve accessibility to knowledge expertise
  • Reduce cost of communication, travel and operations
  • Improve overall employee satisfaction

On the flip side, it can become a double-edged sword as increased transparency has to be moderated with regulatory and other legal requirements. Some of the issues that an organisation risk for not implementing Enterprise 2.0 include:

  • Unauthorized usage of web tools – employees many use unauthorized external tools to get their work done, this can lead to IT security risks due to the lack of integration with existing systems
  • Retaining your best talents – can impact organisation’s ability to attract and retain young talented people if they are perceived as “not an attractive and technological advance company”
  • Reduced competitiveness – competitors will have the edge by getting a head start from using Web 2.0 technologies, and it can become extremely difficult to overcome

Initial resistance can be expected for people to accept the Enterprise 2.0 working culture. They are not convinced by the new way of working and it is entirely understandable that one is not willing to change for something that they are not comfortable with. According to Ajay from Oracle, here are some of the best practices that an organisation can adopt to overcome this organisational resistance to change and eventually, realizing the benefits of Enterprise 2.0:

  • Gradually integrate the use of Enterprise 2.0 technologies into the employee’s day-to-day activities
  • Provide informal incentives (e.g. expertise rating/recognition) for meaningful contributions
  • Integrate Enterprise 2.0 approaches with other modes of customer/partner interaction

Motorola IT department’s Enterprise 2.0 initiative to encourage collaboration within the organisation was a huge success. With approximately 70,000 people using it every day including business partners, the company now has 4,400 blogs and 4,200 wiki pages in use, among other web tools include social bookmarking and tagging by Scuttle and social networking by Visible Path.

Intranet 2.0 started slowly but grew organically by word-of-the-mouth and the use of 250 “knowledge champions” strategically allocated within the organisation to evangelize the self-serve collaboration platform. Motorola VP Toby Redshaw made it a point to the keep the platform simple to use so that it is easier for employees to embrace the new way of working, decreasing barriers to adoption.

E-mail used to have a lock on the company and Redshaw observed that there has been a significant drop in e-mail usage and more use of technologies like wikis and blogs to share information to wider audiences. On the topic of ROI, Redshaw admitted that it was always going to be complicated to put a figure on how much profit Enterprise 2.0 technologies brought to Motorola. Instead, he talked about how exactly work has changed since the implementation of Intranet 2.0. Within the IT organization:

  • Product development times were significantly reduced
  • Instead of developing a different pitch for every client, salespeople can now reuse information that might be posted on a wiki
  • In Motorola’s Dallas distribution centre, employees clicking on mobile alerts that come to their smart phones are sent directly to a wiki to troubleshoot problems

Motorola VP, Toby Redshaw on the intangible benefits of speedy collaboration:

“I don’t beat Nokia or Cisco or Siemens by having better buildings or shinier cafeterias,” he said. “Companies are human beings solving problems or responding to crises by working with each other. If you can make your company less of a top-down company at a higher speed than your competition, you have just kicked their butts.”

Another challenge Redshaw noted was controlling and regulating proper usage of social media within the organisation. The locked-down approach has worked for Motorola so far because while Enterprise 2.0 technologies might start small, they can quickly become unwieldy therefore there must be a plan (e.g. social media policy) to keep the use of Enterprise 2.0 technologies within the organisation in-check. He said:

“If you let people build this in pockets, when it gets big, you will have this enterprise layer of spaghetti that you will never align.”

Final thoughts

Motorola has shown the way forward on how to successfully integrate Enterprise 2.0 technologies within an organisation. Their “locked-down” approach presumably revolves around a specific social-media policy to protect the interests of the company and mitigate any potential risks. Its Enterprise 2.0 initiative started slowly, but gradually blossomed and this allowed time for the entire organisation to adapt to this new change in working culture. Before we end, I will leave you guys with a video on how to measure social media ROI.

Here are some useful links and references: